Dennis Gardeck playfully poked D.J. Humphries as he streamed into the locker room with many of his defensive teammates, now finished with their first minicamp practice on Tuesday under new head coach Jonathan Gannon.
The mood was light. The team is far from finished, whether it be roster construction or football playbook. The team's top quarterback remains inside each day, rehabbing his knee. But this voluntary workout was the first step on to a field, with coaches, getting an idea of what Gannon and his staff have in mind.
"What I like about it is you kind of get to re-learn football all over again," said Gardeck, the linebacker going into his sixth season. "You've kind of got a blank slate, everything you thought you knew, because there is new terminology, there are terms that are the same but mean different things.
"That's why I feel like a rookie. You have to kind of blank-slate it. You know how Ted Lasso does the goldfish thing? You have to be a goldfish and go from square one."
First-year head coaches are allowed an extra minicamp, and this is that extra time. There will be workouts Wednesday and Thursday, the latter an opener to the first round of the draft that night.
The mandatory full minicamp will be held in mid-June as the wrap-up to offseason work.
Phase Two field work -- no helmets, no offense v defense -- comes up next, after the minicamp. The 10 scheduled organized team activities on the field -- helmets allowed, offense against defense but with very little contact -- start May 22 and are intermittent through June 8.
There is also a rookie minicamp on May 12-14.
"We're going to have to adjust on the fly a little bit because everybody comes from different places and different teams," Gannon said. "We've got a lot of new players now and players that have been here. I think that the main thing is being clear with what we expect to get out of being on the grass, showing them good and bad examples of that and work to keep having some good examples of it."
Given how early it is in the calendar, and its voluntary nature, will limit how much the Cardinals can truly do at this early stage. (The Cardinals still have fewer than 70 players on the roster and that doesn't count those who are not here; the team has eight draft picks and a significant amount of undrafted rookies that will soon be added.)
But Gannon likes that the coaching process can begin with both technique and scheme, and how he wants practice to function both for safety and for the team's progress.
"It was high energy," defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence said. "There are a lot of new faces, but that's a good thing. We're just trying to learn each other and build every day."
Images of the Arizona Cardinals practicing during the voluntary veteran minicamp at the Dignity Health Training Facility